By Sherry Frewerd
How do we help our young children learn about thankfulness and the importance of sharing with others? Naturally, the holiday season sets the perfect stage for such important life lessons.
To a toddler or preschool age child, the concept of thankfulness is extremely abstract. That does not mean that we cannot establish traditions and build healthy sharing habits within our families, starting with our little kids.
Daily, children are bombarded with media and advertisements for more and more ‘stuff.’ My young son is now on a forced sabbatical from Wal-Mart due to over exposure to ‘Tigger’. We can’t even enter the parking lot with him in the car without the chorus of ‘I want a new Tigger...' to start full force. For his own good, and for the sake of my sanity, he’s staying home with Daddy until after the holidays. Hopefully his condition will improve by then.
My son’s issue comes from being two years old, that will change with age. But, if left untreated, and if I fail to take advantage of every ‘teachable moment’, he very well may grow up to be an ungrateful brat. Sounds harsh, but the kids from ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ aren’t all that far from reality.
So, how do we create more ‘Charlies’ and fewer ‘Violets’? Here are some simple yet fun and inexpensive activities that toddlers and preschoolers love. Their pride in accomplishment will show on their faces.
Holiday Sharing Activities for Little Kids:
1. Make thank you cards for the ‘heroes’ in your community. Firefighters, mail carriers, police officers etc. Let the kids hand deliver if possible.
2. Make homemade bird feeders or sprinkle birdseed outside weekly for the birds.
3. Offer to help gather fallen leaves from the lawn of senior citizen neighbors. Make a fun time of it. Little kids love to jump in the leaves and you can teach them about autumn too!
4. Create cards and art projects to take to a local nursing home. My son and I visit often, and he loves to sit on the couch with a special friend named ‘Darlene.’ They enjoy each other’s company, and he is learning patience and gets to practice ‘inside voice.’
5. Work with your kids on making a ‘Helping Coupon Book’ or a simple picture book with different things that they can do to help around the house. Each page can be a ‘coupon’ for a little job like putting toys away, helping put clothes in or take out of the dryer, etc.
These small suggestions are merely a starting point for activities and special times that we can do with our children now, while they’re young, to instill qualities of community and helpfulness. The burden is on today’s parents to set the example. Let’s create a world of thoughtful, thankful adults.
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